Set in Darwin, Australia, during the Second World War. All Our Shimmering Skies is a harrowing but magical story of a young grave digger girl named Molly Hook. After losing her mother, she was bought up as the daughter of an alcoholic gravedigger; young Molly’s life has been challenging to say the least. But she hasn’t let it get her down. Through all the adversity, Molly still believes there is good in everyone. Whether or not they deserve her blessings.

‘Poor little gravedigger girl. Mad little gravedigger girl.

As the bombs rain down on Darwin, they destroy Molly’s house, killing her father. As a result, there is nothing left for orphan Molly Hook. So she runs. She runs from misery and abuse towards what she hopes is happiness and beauty.

‘Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.’

With a duffel bag over her shoulder, a map in hand and a fire in her heart, Molly leaves Darwin to finally rid her family of the curse imposed by aboriginal elder Longcoat Bob. A curse was bought after her grandfather stole gold from Longcoat Bob’s family.

On her journey, Molly is joined by chaperone Greta, a razor-tongued actress who dated Molly’s uncle, and Yukio, a Japanese bomber who literally fell from the sky. The three together make an unlikely but fascinating trio.

Dalton gives a beautifully detailed and vivid description of the incredible Australian landscape and Aboriginal ways in an adventure charged with danger. 

‘The pilot runs his hand through a bed of vivid purple flowers and then to a thick grey eucalypt covered in so many hanging red and green figs they could form a dress for the tree.’

Although death and misery are never far away, All Our Shimmering Skies is also a spellbinding tale of growth and survival—an extraordinary story with true grit and beauty based on the power of both love and hope. I especially loved the relationship between Molly and Greta. They are both robust, bold and beautiful characters. I recommend that you add it to your reading list this summer.

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